Romance. Weddings. June has got it all. And as we kick off our special event week here at the Junction, we’d like to invite you to join us for some Filly wedding excerpts. No two weddings are alike, so all this week we will be featuring different themes. Vicki and I will start the ball rolling with two marriage of convenience scenes. One from Short-Straw Bride and the other from Marrying the Major.
Vicki and I will also be drawing winners from those who comment. So tell us something about your own wedding or one you attended to be entered to win a copy of either Short-Straw Bride or Marrying the Major!
Excerpt 1 – Short-Straw Bride
A gallant denial sprang to his lips, but the moment he saw her, his ability to speak vanished. She was a vision. Her honey-colored hair rolled against her head in thick, soft twists accented by loops of blue ribbon with long tails that draped along the side of her neck. His fingers itched to follow the trail of those ribbons, to brush the tender skin at her nape.
Her lashes were lowered, and he wondered at her shyness until he recalled that he hadn’t answered her comment. “Meri, look at me,” he murmured in a quiet tone that no one would overhear.
Those thick, dark lashes lifted slowly, and the blue of her eyes, made even more vibrant by the blue of her dress, pierced his heart. Her teeth nibbled her bottom lip as she forced her gaze to hold his.
“I’ll not be changing my mind.”
Her shoulders relaxed and a tentative smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. His own mouth curved in response. Then he remembered the awkward bouquet he’d brought. Feeling a little sheepish, he raised his arm and held it out to her.
“It’s not much, but I thought you might like them.”
Her breath caught and for a moment she did nothing but stare at the rustic offering. Unable to see her eyes, Travis’s doubts grew. “I know they’re just a bunch of weeds, so don’t feel like you have to carry them. It was probably a stupid idea anyway.” As his mumbled excuses tapered off, Meredith’s head snapped up.
“Don’t you dare call them weeds, Travis Archer. They’re glorious!” Her eyes glistened with a moisture he didn’t understand. “No bride could have a more beautiful bouquet. Thank you.”
The softness of her palm caressed his knuckles as her hand circled the stems, and the contact had an odd tightening effect on his chest. He offered her his arm and led her over to the parson.
To be honest, Travis didn’t remember much of what the preacher said during the brief ceremony. He supposed he answered at the appropriate times and vaguely recalled Meredith doing the same, but when the parson announced that he could kiss the bride, his senses came on high alert.
How did one kiss a bride he’d never expected to have, one he’d known less than a week? Thinking to buss her chastely on the cheek, he leaned forward. But somehow his mouth found her lips instead. The kiss was brief, gentle, but exquisitely sweet. If not for the hoot Neill let out, he would have returned for another.
A pretty blush colored Meredith’s face as she turned away to accept her cousin’s congratulations, and Travis had to fight the urge to swagger when he approached his brothers.
Here comes the bride from Marrying the Major . . . Some of you will recognize Caroline Bradley. I just loved giving her a happy ending. Caroline is a young widow who accepts a position as a governness because it’s the only way she can be part of a family. When a threat puts the children in her care in danger, she makes a startling offer to her employer. A retired British army officer, Tristan Willoughby Smith is the third son of a duke, fighting malaria and raising horses in Wyoming. In the following scene, Caroline has just offered to marry him as a way to help protect the children from his evil father . . .
“It’s a generous offer,” Tristan said to Caroline. “But I can’t take advantage of your good will.”
He didn’t want admit to his potential feelings, but the possibility of affection, or the lack of it, had to be addressed. “You’ve been married before. I presume you loved your husband just as I loved Molly. A marriage in name only strikes me as . . . inadequate.”
She stood straighter. “Women marry for all sorts of reasons.”
“Of course.” In England men and women alike married for money and prestige. In America, women married for survival. He’d seen the advertisements for mail-order brides in cheaply bound catalogs. Those creatures struck him as pitiful. Caroline struck him as remarkable. He didn’t intend to accept her offer to marry him, but he wanted to know why she had made it. “If you’ll forgive my boldness, why would you settle for an arrangement of this nature?”
Color stained her cheeks. “That should be obvious.”
“It’s not.” At least not to him.
She held out her arms in a manner that put her life on display. “Look at me, major. I’m almost thirty years old. It’s true I’m widowed, but my marriage was clandestine. In the eyes of society I’m on the shelf. I have no children, no family except for Bessie. My prospects for marriage are nil.”
He couldn’t believe she thought so little of herself. “That’s simply not true.”
“Forgive me,” she said with a touch of sarcasm. “But you’re either blind or an incurable optimist.”
His gaze flicked from her face to her curves and back again. How this woman could believe she had no hope for a husband was beyond him. She was lovely, smart, brave and kind. She wasn’t a naïve girl anymore, but that hardly mattered to a mature man. Tristan preferred a woman whose character had been tested, someone who understood that life had ups and downs. He looked boldly into her eyes. “I assure you, Caroline. I’m not blind . . .”
If you’d like to read more about Caroline’s walk down the aisle, Marrying the Major is available on Amazon . . . I hope you all enjoy the story.